Washington, D.C.– National Restaurant Association Executive Vice President of Public Affairs Sean Kennedy today released the following statement on the introduction of the Real Economic Support that Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive Act of 2020 (RESTAURANTS Act of 2020) in the Senate:
“The introduction of this bill provides hope of survival for small business restaurant owners from the smallest towns to the broadest urban streets. It will help these struggling businesses, regardless of the sign on the door, who are still facing a difficult and uncertain future.
“We are pleased that the Senate bill reflects much of our proposal
sent to Congress on March 18, just days after state governments started to shut the industry down. We appreciate the leadership of Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), whose work with us ensured that this bill reflects the needs of our independent and small franchise owners.
“The Senate and House versions of the RESTAURANTS Act are not equal in how they support struggling restaurant owners. The House bill denies access to any restaurant that is part of a larger chain – even if it the operator owns only one and is facing the same economic roadblocks as an independent restaurant. The reality as this that restaurants, irrespective of their business model, are all facing vast and long-term challenges.
“The foodservice industry employs 10% of the U.S. workforce, and has an economic impact of more than $2.5 trillion dollars annually. Overnight, we were told to shut down our dining rooms, send home our workers, and find new ways to do the one thing we do best — serve our communities. And we did. But the industry bore the brunt of the pandemic shutdown. More than 8 million of our workers are now unemployed and our businesses has lost more than $120 billion in sales.
“Right now, restaurants across the country are struggling on every front. They are trying to figure out how to make ends meet when they are only allowed to fill 25-50% of their seats. They owe rent and have invoices for food that are past due. They are paying extraordinary prices for the safety measures they want to put in their dining rooms to keep their workers and patrons safe. And they are wondering how they will ever find the money to pay for it all.
“Americans love going to restaurants. And since March, nearly 500,000 of our grassroots supporters have raised their voice to share with their member of Congress the importance of a favorite restaurant in their community. Their support and enthusiasm is a reminder of the role that the industry plays in our daily lives.
“To be the engine that the economy relies on, restaurants need help. The pandemic is not over, and we don’t know what the next few months will hold for the industry. We hope that working with Congress and the Administration, we can ensure that restaurants can continue to welcome everyone to their tables.”